Restaurant Development & Design

FALL 2014

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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2 8 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • F A L L 2 0 1 4 Each location features a schedule and score board that showcase local high school teams. Each month, the units also recognize a local high school student for their academic and athletic achievements. Additionally, the res- taurants have a reading program and a Meathead of the Game award that's given to individual children at the end of school-based athletic games. "The award is not about who played the best; it's about who plays hard and applies themselves," Jednorowicz notes. "I think there is a place for both concepts, but a place like Chuck E. Cheese's is more of a special occasion thing," he adds. "What we're trying to capture is the weekly visit. You have to sat- isfy everyone if you're going to be a family restaurant. It's not just about menu, or experience. There's a difference between being kid tolerant and kid friendly." Indeed, restaurant operators fnding success with the family segment are those that appeal to parents frst by iden- tifying with and catering to their family needs. This means keeping their children busy, happy and engaged so everyone can enjoy the experience. "This could be done through tabletop games, more sophisticated menus, toys, etc.," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic. "Certainly, price point for kids is important as is being able to provide a high level of service, meaning bringing their food to the table quickly. The little things can go a long way for parents. Sixty-seven percent of consum- ers say that atmosphere and comfort are incredibly relevant to how they choose a restaurant for family dining occasions. A comfortable atmosphere is very important, especially for large families." Family dining has changed dramati- cally over the past 50 years, with menu options available to children, in addition to design, playing a more centralized role. "The menu has defnitely gotten more sophisticated for kids, and certainly restaurants are recognizing an opportunity to increase spend for those kids by making lemonade and specialty drinks, as well as desserts," Tristano says. "Overall, the willingness of restaurants to bring kids in has improved. They have done a better job of catering to kids. The attention had gone away from children for a while and it's starting to come back." One reason why is because American families were hit hard by the recession and were in need of affordable dining-out options. Another is simply the increasing role restaurants play in consumers' daily lives. "When the recession hit and dispos- able income wasn't what it was, restaurant chains had to make adjustments and fgure things out to make some changes," says Steve Beagelman, CEO of SMB Franchise Advisors. "One of those changes was to offer an alternative to get families to come in more often. Also, families are eating out more now than 50 years ago. There is no question that the times have changed." Kid Friendly by Design Restaurant operators with concepts designed to specifcally target kids fea- ture spaces that engage, captivate and nourish. This can include dining areas that can handle families and varied seat- ing options including high- and low-top tables, and booths. "What we realized from a design perspective is that it's typical when you order at the counter that you see the top of the kids' heads, at best, and the staff isn't able to engage with the kids," says Shannon Seip, co-founder of the Bean Sprouts cafe and cooking school. "That's why we created our 'Imaginibbles' kids' counter that is 22 inches from the foor. We took the average height of a 3-year- old and built the counter to ft that height so kids could see photos of the menu items themselves. This lets our staff engage with that child." Seip and her Bean Sprouts co-founder, Kelly Parthen, were attending graduate Bring on the Kids! Left: The booths at Meatheads are U-shaped, which allow parents to sit at the ends with their children in the middle. Below: In addition to being family friendly, each Meatheads' location includes a graphics pack- age that showcases images from the community it serves.

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